Surge protectors and power strips are often used interchangeably, but are they really the same thing? While both devices serve the purpose of expanding the number of electrical outlets, there are some important differences between them.

A surge protector is designed to protect your electronics from power surges and voltage spikes, whereas a power strip is simply a block of outlets. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, as using a power strip instead of a surge protector could potentially lead to damage to your electronics.

This article will give you a closer look at the differences between surge protectors and power strips, and help you determine which one is right for your needs.


What Is an Electrical Power Surge?

Power surge means sudden voltage spikes. It is a common phenomenon which can occur when lighting strikes or when our electric supply transformer hit by something.

It can even happen when we turn on some high-power appliances like AC or refrigerator. It is safe to say that our electric supply is not a smooth steady stream of electricity.

Surges can vary according to its seriousness depending on their reason of occurrence. With some serious long lasting major surge, our home and office appliances may be burnt, melted or malfunction.

Even small and micro surges can do damage over time. Like degrading our wiring and circuitry inside of our devices. Surge protector provide us safety from such incidents to a certain level.

Are All Power Strips Surge Protectors?

No, not all power strips are surge protectors.

A power strip is a device which adds some additional outlets space to our regular power plug.

Whereas a surge protector does the same with additionally provide protection against power surges or voltage spikes.

So, how to defer them apart from one another?

It’s easy. One can see the variance in power strips and the surge protector when they came across the joule rating on the packaging.

There must be a joule rating on every surge protector to tell us how long and how much the surge protector will protect our equipment.

Now without the packing how to tell which one is power strip and which one is surge protector?

Well, it’s hard to separate them apart. We can’t always separate them just by looking.

Sometime surge protector may have some sort of indication like light bar or alarm system to tell us it has a low reservoir. When it is set “ON”, we know it’s time to change the unit.

Why Choose Power Strips?

Figure 1: Power Strips

If you only need more outlets and no need to have protection for power surges, then you should choose power strips. Most of our residential and commercial areas are not provided with sufficient power outlets.

Simply it is inconvenient to include more than two sockets in one switch board. But it may not be sufficient always. Power strips become very handy in such cases.

When we have a multiple appliance to a close proximity it is very useful to use a power strip rather than having multiple power socket outlets.

Power stripes usually comes with a circuit breaker and several outlets with some sort of on/off switches. These contribute additional help in business and household looking to conserve power.

Which One Is Better? Power Strip or Surge Protector?

Figure 2: Surge Protectors

It totally depends on what you are actually looking for. If you are looking for protection against surges, then surge protector is better for you.

If you are just looking for multiple outlets, then power strip is the better choice since it is cheaper than a surge protector.

As we see there is a lot of things are similar between these two items. So, it is not so easy to which one is better than other. We should consider some factor when choose the better one.

The Level of Protection Provide:

The biggest and main difference between these two devices is the level of protection. We must keep that in mind that power strips did not provide any kind of protection at all.

For protection we must use surge protectors. It is designed to protect the equipment that are connected to the protector. But always remember what not to plug into a surge protector.

Cost of The Items:

In term of cost, it is very clear that power strips will cost cheaper than surge protectors. This must be presumed as surge protector offers protection to our equipment.

However, the cost difference is not that high. We can easily get a power strip less than $20 in online or nearby store. Surge protector however differs in price range. Higher the protection higher the price.

In short, both power strips and surge protector offer different functionality for our electric equipment.

If you need just to add more device in a single outlet, no need to waste money on surge protector. Power strips will do the job very well. That’s how to prevent circuit break from tripping unnecessarily.


In conclusion, while both surge protectors and power strips serve the purpose of expanding the number of electrical outlets, they are not the same thing. 

Surge protectors offer additional protection against power surges and voltage spikes, while power strips simply provide extra outlets. When choosing between a surge protector and a power strip, consider the types of electronics you have and the level of protection you need.

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